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मार्च 23, 2012

Preface to the E-Seminar by Desh Raj Sirswal

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Preface to the E-Seminar

by

Desh Raj Sirswal

 “I am a man and all that affects mankind concerns me” a beautiful thought of Shaheed Bhagat Singh which reflects the real nature of this great personality. Generally which is propagated and learned students in school, college, university text-books is a misinterpretation of his ideas and philosophy. His whole personality is devaluated by his following quote, which is only a matter of particular thinking:

 

If the deaf are to hear, the sound has to be very loud. When we dropped the bomb, it was not our intension to kill anybody. We have bombed the British Government. The British must quite India make her free.”

 

His whole thinking misinterpreted only by this types of quotations mislead us from his revolutionary socialist democratic philosophy. His ideas are also propagated as a nationalistic character yet it is injustice with his ideology. We can find the real character of his philosophy when we compare it with available universal socialist thinking.  Social democracy is officially a reformist democratic socialist political ideology.Contemporary social democracy advocates freedom from discrimination based on differences of ability/ disability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, language, race, religion, and sexual orientation.  Philosophy of Bhagat Singh reflects upon all social problems which have a universal character.  Here we have collected three articles written by a professional thinker, a student and a teacher respectively. Present initiative becomes an online anthology related to Bhagat Singh. We need those ideas which contribute to man’s individual and social life. Two annexure are included here. First introduces his main writing available online and second annexure is our advt., reflecting various topics to do future work on his philosophy.

 

The Centre for Positive Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Srudies (CPPIS) always ready to do some creative work in this regard and have some future plan to produce some publication related to Philosophy of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Hope this programme will be considered heartily by our members and fellow beings.

 

Dr Desh Raj Sirswal

23rd March, 2012

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Bhagat Singh (1907-1931) by Mike Bessler

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Bhagat Singh (1907-1931)

by

Mike Bessler

Bhagat Singh was born on 27 September 1907.

Indian revolutionary and a major figure in the Indian independence movement of the early Twentieth Century. Singh was active in revolutionary struggle from an early age and he was briefly affiliated with the Mohandas Ghandi’s “Non-Cooperation” movement, although Singh would break with Ghandi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance later in life.

Singh embraced atheism and Marxism-Leninism and integrated these key components into his philosophy of revolutionary struggle. Under his leadership, the Kirti Kissan Party was renamed the Hindustan Socialist Republican Organization. As Singh and his organization rose to new prominence in the Indian independence movement, they became the focus of public criticism from Ghandi himself, who disagreed with their belief that violence was a necessary and vital component of revolutionary struggle.

Singh’s secularism was perhaps his most important contribution to the socialist and independence struggles. During those turbulent times, British Imperialism used every tactic to create antagonism among the different religions of India, especially between Hindus and Muslims. The Sanghatan and Shuddi Movements among Hindus; and tableegh and many sectarian movements in Muslims bear witness to the effects of this tactic. Bhagat Singh removed his beard which was a violation of Sikh religion, because he did not want to create before the public the image of a ‘Sikh’ freedom fighter. Nor did he want to be held up as a hero by the followers of this religion. He wanted to teach the people that British Imperialism was their common enemy and they must be united against it to win freedom.

On April 8, 1924, Baghat Singh and his compatriot B. K. Dutt hurled two bombs on to the floor of the Central Delhi Hall in New Delhi. The bombs were tossed away from individuals so as not to harm anyone and, in fact, no one was harmed in the ensuing explosions. Following the explosions, Singh and Dutt showered the hall with copies of a leaflet that later was to be known as “The Red Pamphlet.” The pamphlet began with a passage which was to become legendary in the Indian revolutionary struggle:

“It takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear, with these immortal words uttered on a similar occasion by Vaillant, a French anarchist martyr, do we strongly justify this action of ours.”

Singh and Dutt concluded the pamphlet with the phrase “Long Live the Revolution!” This phrase (translated from “Inquilab Zindabad!” became one of the most enduring slogans of the Indian Independence Movement.

Singh and Dutt turned themselves in following the bombing incident. Following the trial, they were sentenced to “transportation for life” and while imprisoned, Singh and Dutt became outspoken critics of the Indian penal system, embarking on hunger strikes and engaging in agitation and propaganda from within the confines of the prison. Shortly after the commencement of his prison sentence, Singh was implicated in the 1928 death of a Deputy Police Superintendent. Singh acknowledged involvement in the death and he was executed by hanging on 23 March 1931.

Bhagat Singh is widely hailed as a martyr as a result of his execution at the hands of oppressors and, as such, he is often referred to as “Shaheed (Martyr) Bhagat Singh.”

Source:

Mike Bessler (2006) “Singh, Bhagat (1907-1931)” in MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism, 23-03-2012 http://www.marxists.org/glossary/people/b/h.htm#bhagat-singh

 

BHAGAT SINGH: A Man of Revolution by Puneet Sharma

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BHAGAT SINGH: A Man of Revolution

by

 Puneet Sharma

BHAGAT SINGH was born in the village of Bang in the District of Lyallpur on Saturday, the 27thof September, 1907 (13thAsuj, 1964 Bik) at 0900 hours. He was the second child in the family of Kishan Singh. It  is  commonly  believed that  Bhagat  Singh  was the eldest  son of  Kishan  Singh ,but  this is not correct .Kishan Singh’s first son was Jagat  Singh ,Who died  at the age of 11,when he was studying in the 5thclass. Because of the early death of his brother, Bhagat Singh came to be regarded was the first child of Kishan Singh. Bhagat Singh is survived by four brothers and three sisters, namely Kulbir Singh, Kultar Singh, Rajinder Singh, Ranbir Singh, Bibi Amar Kaur, Bibi Parkash Kaur and Bibi Shakuntla.

His birth took place at the time when the political  situation in the country, particularly  in the Punjab ,was  very tense  due to the  agitation  the  Colonization Act , launched  by  his  uncle, Ajit  Singh a well–known   revolutionary, and Lala Lajpat Rai ,some of the leaders even “looked to driving  the British out of  the  country  either by force or through  passive resistance by the people as a whole.’’(1)

The prevailing political situation the country can also be judged from the following extract from the judgement in the first Lahore Conspiracy Case, 1915. ‘In 1907, awake of sedition passed over India, including the Punjab, We Know, too, that the wave of sedition has kept ebbing and flowing since then.’’(2) Natural as it was, the prevailing political trends in the country, and in Bhagat Singh’s house particularly went on fertilizing the soil in which the seeds of patriotism had been sown. They showed their full impact on the child at a later stage.

At the time of   Bhagat   Singh’s birth, his father was in the Lahore central jail in connection with the agitation launched by him against the Colonization bill. His uncle, Ajit Singh, was interned in the Mandalay Jail. Kishan Singh, an under–trial at that time, had put in a bail application, which was granted. Consequently, he was released on a bail of Rs, 50000 and similarly his brother, Swarn Singh was released on a bail. Both brothers reached home 1or2days (3) after the birth of Bhagat Singh. At about the same time, a telegram regarding the release of his uncle Ajit Singh was also received from the Mandalay Jail. Because of that happy coincidence, the birth of the child fortunate. Accordingly the grandmother named the child Bhaganwala which came to be used as his nick name. It was born was from his original name Bhaganwala that the child was later named Bhagat Singh.

Education

Bhagat Singh joined the District Board Primary School in the village Banga in the year 1911-12. At school, he was a very lovable child, so lovable and sociable was he, that even children of the senior classes were very friendly and affectionate towards him. He was very quick in making friends. Early in life Bhagat Singh came into contact with well-known political leaders of India such as Lala Lajpat Rai Lala Pindi Dass, & Sufi Amba Prashad. The Ghadar movement of 1914-15 launched, by the Punjab peasants, who had returned from the U.S.A and Canada, brought Bhagat Singh into touch with such Ghadar heroes as Kartar Singh Sarabha, Rash Bihari Bose and others. They used to visit at Kishan Singh place at Banga for consultation and financial assistance, and the child would hear their talks and plans. Of these Ghadar heroes, Kartar Singh Sarabha about the trial court in the First Lahore Conspiracy Case had remarked, “He is a young man, no doubt but he is certainly one of the worst of these conspirators and is a thoroughly callous scoundrel, proud of his exploits, to whom no mercy whatever can or should be shown”, (4) influenced Bhagat Singh the most. Kartar Singh Sarabha’s ascending the gallows as a result of the judgement in the Lahore Conspiracy Case I in 1916-a supreme sacrifice for India’s freedom by a lad of about 19 years-left yet another deep impression on Bhagat Singh mind. He was only 9 years old, and that impression changed his way of thinking and outlook towards life.

Bhagat Singh also left the D.A.V.School, Lahore, in 1921 when he was a student of the 9th class. Then he joined the National College, Lahore, started by Parmanand and Lala Lajpat Rai, and affiliated to the Quami Vidyapith, Lahore. Most of the students who joined that National College were those who took part in the non-cooperation movement. Here, a doubt arises how Bhagat Singh could join the college, when he was a 9th class student only. According to the statement of Jai Dev Gupta, the students were given two months to prepare themselves and to appear for a test. Bhagat Singh and Jai Dev Gupta brunt midnight oils for the months and sat for the entrance test in the National College. In that test, they were successful, and they were admitted directly to the 1st year class in the National College.

While at national college, Bhagat Singh came into contact with Bhagwati Charan, Sukhdev, Ram Krishan and Tirath Ram. In that college, in addition to the normal subjects, special lectures on patriotism, nationalism, etc. Were delivered by national leaders, such as Bhai Parmanand, Lala Lajpat Rai and others. Prof.Jai Chandra Vidyalankar very much impressed by Bhagat Singh. He started giving him talks on the history of revolutions, and socialism, thus further adding to his revolutionary zeal. Vidyalankar had contacts with revolutionary groups in Uttar Pradesh.

Bhagat Singh did not pass his B.A. when the incident about his marriage took place a result; he had to leave his studies. Bhagat Singh did not pass his B.A. and had to leave the National College in1924 on account of his proposed marriage.

 

The Marriage Episode

Bhagat Singh grandmother loved him very much. She wanted that Bhagat Singh should be married so that she could have a grand-daughter-in-law. His father said that his grandmother wanted that Bhagat Singh should be married at all costs. After a great deal of thought, Kishan Singh wrote to Bhagat Singh as follows:

“Dear Bhagat Singh,

We have settled your marriage. We have seen the bride. We approve of her and her parents. I myself and yourself       must honour the desire of your old grandmother. Therefore, it is my order that you should not create any difficulty in the celebration of the marriage and be prepared for it happily.”

The Bhagat Singh replied, “If you, who are staunch patriot and brave personality, can be influenced by such trifles, then what will happen to an ordinary man? You are only caring for Dadi, (my grandmother), but in how much trouble is our mother of 33 crores, the Bharat Mata? We will have to sacrifice everything for the sake of her troubles.” Thus Bhagat Singh decided finally rather took a vow, not to marry. Hence that proposed marriage brought an end to the formal education of Bhagat Singh. He left his studies and went to Kanpur early in1924. Before leaving with his friends, he said:

“Friends I tell you today that if my marriage takes place in the slave-India, my bride shall be only death. The Barat will take the form of a funeral procession and take the Baraties will be the martyrs of the country.”

The Akali Jatha Incident

At Lahore, Bhagat Singh collected his friends and others, having identical political views, and discussed the starting of an organization to proceed with their mission. After deep discussions, it was decided that the organization be started. In pursuance of that decision in March1926, they founded an association known as Naujawan Bharat Sabha with Ram Krishan, B.A. (National), as its President, and Bhagat Singh as its secretary. Bhagat Singh was the real founder of that Sabha. Soon, that Sabha adopted political aims, and the “social objects”. The political aims adopted by the Sabha were:

(a) “To establish a completely Independent Republic of the labourers and peasants of the whole of India;

(b) To infuse a spirit of patriotism into the hearts of the youth of the country;

(c)To express sympathy with and to assist the economic, industrial and social movements.”(5)

Under the leadership of Bhagat Singh, the Naujawan Bharat Sabha celebrated the “Martyrs’ Day” in Brad- laugh Hall, Lahore in the memory of revolutionaries. Bhagat Singh held a meeting of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in October1928 and prepared  the workers of the Sabha for a demonstration against the “John Bulls’’ on their arrival at Lahore. The Commission arrived there on the 30thof October, 1928. An all-parties procession, headed by Lala Lajpat Rai, marched towards the Railway Station, Lahore to demonstrate their protest against the arrival of the Commission. Bhagat Singh and his co-workers were in the forefront of the huge procession. The processionists carried black flags and shouted slogans “Simon Commission go back”, “Inquilab Zindabad.” Full of love for the people moved on singing songs like the one given below:

‘Hindustani hain ham, Hindustan hamara

Mur Jao Simon jahan keh hai tumhara’

(We are Indians and India is ours

Go back to the country that is yours)

Assembly Bomb Case

“BHAGAT SINGH AND B.K. DUTT threw bombs in the Imperial Assembly.” “Raised slogans of Inquilab Zindabad.” “The two men arrested are Bhagat Singh of Lahore, believed to be an absconder wanted by police and B.K. Dutt the two bombs are said to have been thrown by Bhagat Singh. The first landed near the front Government benches, the second among the back Government benches. After throwing the bombs, Bhagat Singh fired two shots from an automatic pistol which then jammed. According to the report of the Chief Commissioner, Delhi, dated the 8thof April1929, sent to secretary, Home department. Those hurt as a result of the explosion of bombs were:

  1. Hon’ble Sir George Schuster
  2. Sir Bomanji Dalal, MLA
  3. Mr.S.N. Roy
  4. Mr.P.R. Rau, Financial Commissioner of Railways

These persons were injured not because of bomb fragments, but by the broken chips. After that Bhagat Singh was kept in the Kotwali Chandni Chowk.Then on about the 16thof April, he was shifted to the Civil Lines Police station, Delhi near the old Secretariat. Bhagat Singh’s morale in the Jail was very high and he was taking the whole thing as a drama. He did not allow his father to engage lawyer for him.

Motive Explained

“The bomb was necessary to awaken England form her dreams. We drop the bomb on the floor of the assembly chamber to register our protest on behalf of those who had no other means left to give expression to their heart-rending pain. Our sole purpose was to make the deaf hear and give the careless a timely warning. The hearing of the case ended on 10thJune, 1929, and the judgement, was announced on the 12th.

Epic Hunger Strike For Jail Reforms

Later he was shifted to the Lahore Central Jail for his trial in Saunders Murder Case which came to be known as the Lahore Conspiracy Case. In that notorious Mianwali Jail, Bhagat Singh soon came into contact with political prisoners. In consultation with, he decided to start a hunger strike for the achievement of better facilities in the jail. He managed to collect all the prisoners and his under trial comrades and addressed them as follows:

“Friends, if we had been outside the jail, we would have continued our fight for freedom and died now we are in jail. This jail has also been established by the British imperialism and its object is to weaken the will and physique of the patriots. Man is not treated as man. Let us put up a fight.”

On being asked by them as to what they had to do, Bhagat Singh replied, “Hunger–Strike. Shout; raise hands who are ready to sacrifice themselves for this national cause and welfare of humanity?” All present there volunteered and agreed. Bhagat Singh’s comrades-other under trials in the Lahore Conspiracy Case-namely, Sukhdev, Ajoy Ghosh and B.K. Sinha-were lodged in the Lahore Borstal Jail. On coming to know about the hunger strike of Bhagat Singh, they also followed suit in July 1929. After his hunger strike of Bhagat Singh on 15thJune 1929. Similarly, the load of his comrades began falling, but they kept up their fight. Their hunger strike aroused wide public sympathy. Under the joint support of the city Congress and the Naujawan Bharat Sabha a meeting was held at Amritsar on 30th June, 1929in the Jallianwala Bagh at 8p.m.under the chairmanship of Dr Saif-ud-din Kitclew to celebrate Bhagat Singh Day.(6)It was the same Jallianwala Bagh which had sparked off the spirit of sacrifice in Bhagat Singh.

A Symbol of Sacrifice

Bhagat Singh is a living symbol of self-sacrifice, B.K.Sinha, one of the close associates of Bhagat Singh who was convicted with him in the Lahore Conspiracy Case (1929), wrote, “As for the spirit of self – sacrifice, the revolutionary movement. When he was going to throw the bomb in the assembly, there was a suggestion that he should escape. But he stoutly opposed the idea. He insisted that he should get himself arrested. So that he could speak his socialist ideas more effectively and with a greater appeal. At the time of the Saunders’s murder, the party did not want him to participate, but he was so keen to take the risk that he could not be finally dissuaded.”*Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru writes, “the lesson which they (people) should from Bhagat Singh is to die in a manly and bold manner so that India might live.”(7) “Both Azad and Bhagat Singh are names which are likely to live in popular memory-whatever reluctant consideration lingers, Bhagat Singh regarded today as a hero, a martyr and a most famous son of India.”(8)

The Ghadarite Society and Bhagat Singh

The militant movement to end British rule in India was first started in Maharashtra and Bengal. In the Punjab, the extremist movement was launched in 1907 by Ajit Singh and Lajpat Rai. The movement got a set back with the arrests and deportation of Ajit Singh and Lajpat Rai under the provisions of regulation III of 1818. This was commonly known as the Ghadr Movement. It was launched in the year 1914-15 in the Punjab by Ghadr party members, most of whom were Punjabi peasants, who had migrated to Canada and America for earning a living. The activities of the ghadrites, their trials convictions and hanging left a deep imprint on the minds of young elements. It was their example of sacrifice which was followed by Bhagat Singh and his comrades through the Naujawan Bharat Sabha and the Hindustan Republican Association.

Sardar Kishan Singh’s sympathies with Ghadar movement brought Bhagat Singh ‘when he was only seven in contact with the Ghadar heroes like Kartar Singh Sarabha, Bhai Parmanand and others. These Ghadar leaders used to visit Kishan Singh’s place at Banga for consultation and financial assistance, as mentioned above, and the child (Bhagat Singh) would hear their talks and plans. These ideas influenced the most. Kartar Singh Sarabha’s ascending the gallows as a result of the judgement in the Lahore Conspiracy CaseI in 1916 reinforced the impression on Bhagat Singh’s mind. Though he was only nine years old, it must have influenced his way of thinking and outlook on life.

The Impact of Kartar Singh Sarabha

The impact of Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha’s heroism and sacrifice on Bhagat Singh can also be judged from the fact that when Bhagat Singh was arrested, a photograph of Kartar Singh was recovered from him. He always carried Sarabha’s picture in n his pocket and derived inspiration from it. Moreover he used to show that photograph to his mother and say, “Dear mother, this is my hero, friend companion.” While at home Bhagat Singh used to sing the following couplet-a favourite with Kartar Singh Sarabha.

“Seva Desh di jindriya badi aukhi

Galan karnian dher sukhalian ne

Jinhan desh seva vich pair paya

Unhan lakh musibtan jhaliane” (9)

The Ghadrites, Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy and Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh, who was 12 at that time when he came to Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar from Lahore where thousands of persons were died by firing under the orders of General Dyer’s. Bhagat Singh could not have remained unmoved. The earth, where the blood was spilt, had a religious purity for him. He visited the place and bowed in respect. There were tears in his eyes but they were never shed. The red earth echoed and re-echoed the need for sacrifice within the mind and soul of Bhagat Singh. He picked a handful of that red soil and vowed to himself ‘A sacrifice.’ He brought it and kept it in a bottle. He received inspiration from the contents of the bottle, which thought helped him to purify his mind and soul and so strengthen him to make the ‘sacrifice’ and thereby to punish that national insult.

Bhagat Singh used to explain his heroic deeds and supreme sacrifice for the nation and encourage the audience to follow his example. On Bhagat Singh’s request Baba Chuhar Singh arranged a meeting between Bhagat Singh and Sant Randhir Singh Narangwal, who was also undergoing life imprisonment in Lahore Central Jail in connection with the Ghadr movement. During the conversation Sant Randhir Singh blessed Bhagat Singh in these words:

“The Almighty is the Saviour,

Don’t lose heart

God will help you

Don’t fear death.

God may turn the cards,

Then come out of the jail smiling.”

Assuring the Sant, Bhagat Singh replied, “Santji, the soul will come out smiling, through the body be dead. The spirit will soar high.”Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev were secretly hanged on the evening of 23rd March, 1931 in order to avoid repercussions in the jail; Baba Chuhar Singh realized that Doomsday for his young comrades had arrived. So it was he who first went to the cell of Bhagat Singh before noon and informed him that he and his comrades would be kissing the hangman’s noose that day.

References:

  1. The Indian sedition Committee Report, 1918, p.142
  2. Lahore Conspiracy Case I. Judgement,13 September, 1915, Part IIIA (I), p.1
  3. As per statement of S. Kultar Singh younger brother of Bhagat Singh (interview with him by the writer on December 22, 1966 at Saharanpur).
  4. Lahore Conspiracy Case I Judgement, dated the13th September, 1915 the individual case of Kartar Singh Sarabha, p.7
  5. Home Department (Political), Government of India 1930, File No.130, and K.W.p.1
  6. Home Department (Political), Government of India 1930, File No.130, and K.W.p.13 (of the file)
  7. Nehru J.L. An Autobiography, New Delhi (1962) p.193.
  8. Home Department (Pol.), Govt. of India, 1931 File no. 18-111. Weekly Report dated 25 March, 1931, No.12.p, 1 and 2.
  9. Quoted from a poster ‘Message to Indian Youth’ issued by the late Shrimati Vidyawati, mother of Sardar Bhagat Singh.

Ms. Puneet Sharma

Student, B.A. IInd Year,Roll No. 5854 , B.A. IInd Year.

P.G.Govt. College for Girls, Sector-11, Chandigarh

kanudreamz18@gmail.com

Bhagat Singh as a Surefooted Revolutionary and His Verdure: a Foster- son of Colonialism by Sheena Krishnan Ulamparambath

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Bhagat Singh as a Surefooted Revolutionary and His Verdure: a Foster- son of Colonialism

by

Sheena Krishnan Ulamparambath

Abstract

What would be better to call Bhagat Singh a poet, historian, writer, philosopher, artist, poet, communist, socialist, Marxist or at the most a family man? A close study of Singh’s character and nature along with his letters throws light on his various shades. Yet, still, always confusion arises. What would be better to call him? Politician, states man, nationalist, national builder, patriot, freedom fighter, terrorist, revolutionary, administrator; list may be long. However, question here is which role was dominant in his life? Hence, in this paper an attempt is made to trace him as a man of multiple personalities. Another attempt is made to trace the favorable factors that nourished his growth as freedom fighter.  When delving through the letters written by him to different personalities, it is learnt that in the midst of various political issues and nationalist movements, he was struggling to take care of his family. It is learnt that he had a special affection towards Harnam Kaur, the wife of his exiled uncle Ajit Singh.   This attempt enables us to grapple with the existing shroud of mystery and confusion regarding the role of Singh as a family man. Therefore, the basic thrust is to explore his approach towards the nation and the British, through which it is possible to study how, a patriot, struggled between his family and the nation. The present study entails a detailed exploration of the Singh’s constructive and political activities in the Punjab. To understand him as a historian and a writer, an attempt is being made to separate fact from the mass of legend, which is interwoven with the slender matrix of history. It is hoped that the present exercise would fill the gaps in our knowledge of Singh’s multiple personalities under study. Thus, a humble attempt is made to move away from the conventional reconstructions of the past towards a more realistic and complex representation. It is hoped that the present study would help the readers to assume that how different he was from others.

*******

 “My life has already been committed to a noble case – the case of the freedom of India. For that, reason comforts and worldly desires have no attraction in my life. You must be remembering that…. when I was quite young, Bapuji (grandfather) had declared that I was being pledged for the service of the country. I am, therefore, honouring the pledge of that time. I hope you will excuse me.[1]

A letter written by Bhagat Singh to his father, when his father had arranged his marriage, is quoted above. Bhagat Singh objected to the arrangement and left his home by leaving this letter for his father, which clearly validates his ardent patriotism and deep love for the nation. Bhagat Singh was gripped by patriotic fervour. He was also very sensitive to the plight of the two women in the house who lived without their husbands, the dead Swarn Singh’s widow, and the exiled Ajit Singh’s wife, and, hence, determined not to let same happen to any girl, who, might marry him.[2] Hence, in this paper, an attempt is made to explore various causes that nourished Bhagat Singh’s growth as a patriot. Among various factors, his family background stands at the top. Bhagat Singh’s ancestors were actually the adventurous migrants, who, originally came from the village of Khatkar Kalan in the Jullundur district 27 K.M. from Phagwara and it was from there, they migrated to and settled in the village of Banga in the Lyllapur District, now in West Pakistan.[3]  He came from a patriotic Jat Sikh family, some of whom had participated in movements supporting the independence of India and others, who, had served in Maharaja Ranjit Singh‘s army. His grandfather, Arjun Singh was not only a scholar and doctor but also an ardent follower of Swami Dayananda Saraswati‘s Arya Samaj. Being a nationalist, religious reformer and social worker, he actively participated in the social and religious movements in the nineteenth century,   which would carry a heavy influence on Singh. Unlike many Sikhs, Bhagat Singh did not attend Khalsa High School in Lahore, because his grandfather did not approve of the school officials’ loyalty to the British authorities.  Instead, his father enrolled him in Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School, an Arya Samajist school.  In 1893, Arjun Singh became one of the delegates to the Congress Session held at Lahore. He was man of conviction, who always opposed dogmatism and rigid traditionalism. His father, Kishan Singh too was a social worker, who had organized extensive relief works in different parts of the country. Bhagat Singh’s father as well as father’s brothers, Ajit Singh and Swaran Singh founded a party namely Bharat Mata Society in the year 1906. Later they became the members of the Ghadar Party, led by Kartar Singh Sarabha Grewal and Har Dayal. Kishan Singh joined Arya Samaj as well as the Indian National Congress and consequently; he had faced 42 political trials, remained in jail for two years and was an internee for another too.  Ajit Singh with the blessings of Lala Lajpat Rai, launched extremist movement in the Punjab. The government reports regarding the activities of Ajit Singh reads, “Ajit Singh during the last two months has held a constant series of meetings and has openly advocated sedition. He clearly ought to be stopped at once.”[4] Report continues, “Agitator Ajit Singh and others have urged the people to rise, attack the English and be free.”[5]  His seditious speeches led to the outbreak of violent riots at Lahore and Rawalpindi in 1907, which the then Lieutenant Governor described “as exceedingly serious and exceedingly dangerous and as urgently demanding a remedy.”[6] Lala Lajpat Rai also was amazed to see the overwhelmed agitatating attitude of the people that was created due to the frequent political meetings called by Ajit Singh in which, he urged the people to resist the government actively. On the Radio, Ajit Singh usually began with the famous couplet of Bahadur Shah, the Mughal Emperor:

Gazion mein boo rahgi jab talak Imman ki.

Tabto London Tak Chelegi teg Hindustani ki.

Maja Ayega jab hamara raj dekhenge

Ke apni hi zamin horgi apna asaman hoga

Shahidon ki chitaon per language her baras Meley

Wattan par marane walon ka yahi

Baqi nishan hoga.

 

The translation of the above lines is given:

So long as our soldiers of freedom

Have faith and confidence in themselves

The sword of Hindustan will continue

To penetrate the heart of London itself.

There will be sheer joy when we attain swaraj

And when the land and the sky of India will be ours

Annual fairs will be held at the cremation grounds of martyrs.[7]

We can say that the influence of Ajit Singh on Bhagat Singh was the greatest because he did all such seditious adventurous activities at a time when raising even a finger against the British was considered as a passage to death. The influence of Swaran Singh, a nationalist, on Bhagat Singh could not be underestimated. He published anti British literature and organized agitation against the colonization Bill. He too was arrested on a charge of sedition and was tried and imprisoned. Ajith Singh was forced to flee to Persia because of pending cases against him while, Swaran Singh died when he was only 23 in 1910 at his home after releasing from Borstle Jail, Lahore.  It is from the above discussions it is assumed that his family background occupied with many fearless patriots and freedom fighters might have converted Bhagat Singh a revolutionary terrorist.

The impact of Kartar Singh Sarabha’s heroism and sacrifice, one of the heroes of Ghadar movement, on Bhagat Singh can be clearly understood from the fact that when Bhagat Singh was arrested; a photograph of Kartar Singh Sarabh was recovered from him. It is learnt that he always carried Sarabha’s photo in his pocket, might be to derive motivation from it. Moreover, he used to show the photo to his mother and say that Sarabh is his hero, friend and companion and at home, he used to recite the couple, a favorite with Kartar Singh Sarabha.[8]     

Seva desh di jindariye bari aukhi

 Gallan karnian dher sukhalian ne

 Jinhan desh sevawich pair paya

 Unhan lakh musibtan jhallian ne.

The translation in English is given below:

Serve one’s motherland in the real sense is extremely very tuff,

It is very easy to talk about it,

O! My little soul!

Those, who, wishes to take the task of patriotism

Had to undergo countless torments and agonies.[9]

An important factor in his intellectual and political growth was his access of the Dwarka Dass Library, Lahore, from where, he had started acquiring Marxist literature in the mid-1920s. He was clearly groping for a comprehensive philosophy of human liberation. This led him to Marxism and the Ghadar revolutionaries of the Punjab. Bhagat Singh wrote regularly in their organ, Kirti (Punjabi), on subjects as varied as ‘Communalism and its Solution’, ‘Problem of Untouchability’, ‘Religion and Our Freedom Struggle’ etc.[10] The trials, convictions and arrests of the Ghadrites left a deep imprint on the minds of young elements in northern India, especially on Punjabis. “It was their example of sacrifice which was followed by Bhagat Singh and his comrades through the Naujawan Bharat Sabha and the Hindustan Republican Association. Among the major influences on Bhagat Singh, the greatest was that of the Ghadar movement.”[11]    

The revolutionary terrorists were severely suppressed during the First World War and most of its leaders were put in jail or absconding. When non-cooperation movement was launched on the urging Gandhi, C.R. Das and other leaders and most of the revolutionary terrorists either joined the movement or suspended their own activities in order to give the Gandhian mass movement a golden chance. However, sudden suspension of the non-cooperation movement shattered the high hopes and inspiration and many youngsters and they questioned the very basic strategy of the national leadership and its emphasis on non-violence and demanded for alternatives. They were not happy with the ideas of the swarajists. They believed that only violent methods would bring freedom to India. Thus, revolutionary terrorism again became attractive and active under the activities of Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee, Surya Sen, Jatin Das, Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Shiv Varma, Bhagwati Charan Vohra and Jaidev Kapur. They enthusiastically participated in the non-cooperation movement.  Thus, two separate strands of revolutionary terrorism developed one in Punjab, U.P. and Bihar and other in Bihar.[12]

In April 1919, as a boy of 12, he visited the Jallianwala Bagh, where, the British police had massacred hundreds of unarmed Indians, and came back with blood soaked earth. In 1921, at the age of 14, he told his grandfather about the preparations being made by the railway men to go on strike.  At age of 13, Singh began to follow Mahatma Gandhi‘s non-cooperation movement. At this point, he had openly defied the British and had followed Gandhi’s wishes by burning his government-school books and any British-imported clothing. Following Gandhi’s withdrawal of the movement after the violent murders of the police officers by villagers from Chauri Chaura, Uttar Pradesh, Singh, disgruntled with Gandhi’s nonviolence action, joined the Young Revolutionary Movement and began advocating a violent movement against the British. Already at 15, Bhagat Singh even debated with his father regarding Gandhi’s decision to withdraw the non-cooperation movement. The same year, on February 4, Mahant Narain Dass had killed more than 140 devout Sikhs in collaboration with the British at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib. When Akali workers protested this massacre, Bhagat Singh was at the forefront of welcoming the protestors in his village. Bhagat Singh joined National College Lahore at the age of 15. Around this time, he learned Punjabi language and the Gurumukhi script. This may seem strange today, given that he was born a Sikh. However, his grandfather, Arjun Singh, was a staunch Arya Samajist, who, emphasized learning Sanskrit. Therefore, young Bhagat Singh learnt Sanskrit, in addition to Urdu, English and Hindi.[13]  He proved to be good reader and writer in both Hindi and Punjabi. In 1923, Bhagat famously won an essay competition set by the Punjab Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. This grabbed the attention of members of the Punjab Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, including its General Secretary Professor Bhim Sen Vidyalankar. At this age, he quoted famous Punjabi literature and discussed the Problems of the Punjab. He read a lot of poetry and literature, which was written by Punjabi writers and his favourite poet, was Allama Iqbal from Sialkot.

The frustrated young leaders, like Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chatterjea and Sachindranath Sanyal, whose, Bandi Jiwan served as a textbook to the revolutionary movement,  met at Kanpur in October 1924 and founded the Hindustan Republican Association (or Army). It aimed to organize armed revolution to overthrow the colonial rule and establish in its place a Federal Republic of the United States of India, whose, basic principle would be adult franchise.[14]  Bhagat Singh came to Kanpur in 1923, after writing to his father that he would not marry, joined the paper as well as Hindustan Republican Association. Bhagat Singh started writing in the Pratap under the pen name Balwant. He worked during flood relief, and did duty as headmaster in a school. He wrote, in Hindi, an essay on the Language Problem in Punjab, and won a prize for this essay competition. In 1924-25, he wrote two essays in Matwala: one on ‘Loving the World’ (Vishwa Prem) and another on the youth (Yuvak). When six Babbar Akali revolutionaries were executed in 1926, his article, ‘Blood Drops on Holi Day’ (Holi ke Din Rakt ke Chhinte) was published with the byline, ‘A Punjabi Youth.’ In his celebrated essay, ‘Why I am an Atheist’, written in 1930, Bhagat Singh says that this was the time he was being radicalized, and the end of 1926, still short of 19, he was already an atheist.

Before armed struggle cold to be waged, propaganda had to be organized on a large scale, men had to be recruited and trained and arms had to be produced, Bhagat Singh thought. All these required money. The most important action of HRA was the Kakori Robbbery, on 9 August 1925, ten men held up the 8-Down train at Kakori, an obscure village near Lucknow, and looted its official railway cash. The Government reaction was quick and hard. It arrested a large number of young men and tried them in the Kakori Conspiracy Case.[15]

In his teenage years, Bhagat Singh started studying at the National College in Lahore, but ran away from home to avoid early marriage, and became a member of the organization, Naujawan Bharat Sabha (Youth Society of India).Bhagat Singh was already something of a veteran in running organizations. He had been central to the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, formed in 1926 on the pattern of youth organizations in Italy, inspired by Mazzini and Garibaldi. In the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Singh and his fellow revolutionaries grew popular amongst the youth. He also joined the Hindustan Republican Association through introduction by his history teacher, Professor Vidyalankar,  which had prominent leaders like Ram Prasad Bismil, Chandrashekhar Azad and Ashfaqulla Khan. It is believed that he went to Kanpur with the aim of freeing Kakori train robbery prisoners from the jail, but returned to Lahore for unknown reasons. On the day of Dassera in October 1926, a bomb was blasted in Lahore, and Bhagat Singh was arrested for his alleged involvement in this Dassera Bomb Case in 29 May 1927, and was released on a bail of Rs.60, 000 after about five weeks of his arrest. He kept on writing for the edited Urdu and Punjabi newspapers published from Amritsar. In September 1928, a meeting of various revolutionaries from across India was called at Delhi under the banner of the Kirti Kissan Party. Bhagat Singh was the secretary of the meet. His later revolutionary activities were carried out as a leader of this association. 

A number of factors contributed to the shaping of Bhagat Singh’s socio-political thought. First of all, his family environment, then, Gandhi’s decision to suddenly suspend the non-cooperation movement, disappointed many a youth of India. Most of the future revolutionaries, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee, Surya Sen, Jatin Das, Chandra Sehkar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Siv Verma, Bhagwati  Charan Vohra, Jasidev Kapur and a host of others had actively participated in the non-cooperation movement. Gandhi’s slogan ‘Swaraj in one year’ had inspired them with the spirit of nationalism. Their high hopes that Gandhi’s first all – India movement had risen, however, got temporarily frustrated.

The period of his revolutionary activities began from the time he left Lahore and went to Kanpur. Bhagat Singh got busy in building his contacts with other like-mined revolutionaries. At Kanpur he stayed with Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and came to know Batukeshwar Dutt[16]  We can say that both the strands developed under the influences of varied social forces. The main was the upsurge of working class trade unionism after the war. They identified revolutionary potential of the new class and wished to harness it to the nationalist revolution. The revolutionaries in northern India were the first to emerge out of the mood of frustration and reorganized under the leadership of the old veterans. A real breakthrough in terms of revolutionary struggle, goals, aims and objectives, targets, future plan, methodology and ideology of revolution etc. was inaugurated by Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Bhagat Singh himself declared once that the “the real revolutionary armies are in the villages and in factories.”[17]

References:

Bipan Chandra, 1989, India’s Struggle for Independence 1857-1947, Penguin Books India, New Delhi.

Bir Sohinder, 2008, Inklab da Baani: Shaheed Bhagat Singh (Punjabi, Kastoori Lal& Sons, Amritsar.

Bhupender  Hooja, 2007, Bhagat Singh the Jail Notebook and Other Writings, Compiled with an Introduction by Chaman Lal, Left Word Books, New Delhi.

Chanan Lal, 2007, Bhagat Singh the Jail Notebook and Other Writings, Left World books New Delhi.

Fauja Singh, 1972, Eminent Freedom Fighters of Punjab, Punjabi University,  Patialia.

Gupta D.N. and Chandra Bipan, 2007, Bhagat Singh Select Speeches and Writings, National Book Trust, India, New Delhi.

Gurdev Singh Deol, 1969, Shaheed Bhagat Singh a Biography, Punjabi University Patialia.

Gurdev Singh Deol, 1978, Sardar Bhagat Singh the Man and his Ideology, Deep Prakkasham, Kamala Nagar, Nabha.

Gurdev Singh Deol, 1971, Shaheed Bhagat Singh- Ek Jiwani (Hindi), Sterling Publishers Pvt.Ltd., New Delhi.

Shiv Varma, Ed., 1986, Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, New Delhi.

Virendra Sindhu, 1968, Yugdrashta Bhagat Singh Aur Unke Mrityuanjay Purkhe, Bharatiya Jnanpith Publication, Calcutta.

Dr. Sheena Krishnan Ulamparambath

Assistant Professor                                                                                                                                                                                    

Department  of History

P.G.Govt. College for Girls, Sector-11, Chandigarh

krishnan.sheena@gmail.com


[1]  Gupta  D. N.  & Chandra Bipan, 2007, Bhagat Singh  Select Speeches & Writings, National Book Trust India, New Delhi, Introduction, p. ix.

[2] Bhupender  Hooja, 2007, Bhagat Singh the Jail Notebook and Other Writings, Compiled with an Introduction by Chaman Lal, Left Word Books, New Delhi, p.13.

[3] Singh Deol Gurdev & Singh Karan, 1969, Shaheed  Bhagat Singh: A Bibliography, Punjabi University, Patiala,  p. 4.

[4] Home Department (Political), Government of India, Proceedings of August 1907, numbers 148-235, p. 3, as quoted in Deol Gurdev Singh & Singh Karan, 1969, Shaheed Bhagat Singh: A Bibliography, Punjabi University, Patiala, p. 7.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Home Department (Political), Government of India, Proceedings of August, 1907, numbers 148-235, p. 40, Ibid., p. 8.

[7] Parm Bakhshish Singh and Devinder Kumar Verma, Ed., 1998,   Punjab and the Freedom Struggle, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, p. 179.

[8] Singh Deol  Gurdev  1978,  Shaheed- e-Azam  Sardar Bhagat Singh: The Man and his Ideology,  Deep Prakashan, Nabha, pp. 108-109.

[9] Ibid., p.12.

[10] Bhupender Hooja, op. cit., p. 14.

[11] Singh Deol  Gurdev  1978, , op. cit., p.108.

[12] Bipan Chandra, 1989, India’s Struggle for Independence 1857-1947, Penguin Books India, New Delhi, p. 247.

[13] Bhupender Hooja, op. cit., pp. 12-13.

[14] Bipan Chandra, 1989, op. cit.,  p.  248.

[15] Ibid ., p. 248.

[16] Gupta. D.N & Chandra Bipan, Introduction, p. xii.

[17] Shiv Varma, Ed., 1986,  Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Appendix I, New Delhi, p.130.

Annexure-I: Important Documents (Online)

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Annexure-I: Important Documents (Online)

 

Marxists Internet Archive

 

The Problem of Punjab’s Language and Script  (1923)

Blood Sprinkled on the Day of Holi Babbar Akalis on the Crucifix  (March 15, 1925)

Beware, Ye Bureaucracy  (December 18, 1928)

Letter to Shaheed Sukhdev  (April 5, 1929)

“The Red Pamphlet”  (April 8, 1929)

Joint Statement with B.K. Dutt  (June 6, 1929)

Hunger-strikers’ Demands  (June 24, 1929)

Letter to I.G. (Prisons), Punjab Mianwali Jail  (June 17, 1929)

Message to Punjab Students’ Conference  (October 19, 1929)

Statement Before the Lahore High Court Bench  (1930)

Regarding Suicide  (1930)

Reasons for Refusing to Attend the Court  (January, 1930)

Telegram on Lenin’s Death Anniversary  (January 21, 1930)

Hunger-Strikers’ Demands Reiterated  (January 28, 1930)

Regarding the LCC Ordinance  (May 2, 1930)

Statement of the Undefended Accused with J.N. Sanyal, B.K. Dutt, Dr. Gayal Prasad, and Kundan Lal  (May 5, 1930)

Letter to Jaidev Gupta  (July 24, 1930)

Justice Hilton Must Also Go  (June 25, 1930)

Letter to Father  (October 4, 1930)

Why I am an Atheist  (October 5, 1930)

Letter to B. K. Dutt  (November, 1930)

To Young Political Workers  (February 2, 1931)

Regarding Line of Defence In Hari Kishan’s Case  (June, 1931)

Last Petition  (1931)

Introduction to Dreamland  (Unknown)

Source:

“Bhagat Singh (1907-1931)” in MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism, 23-03-2012, http://www.marxists.org/archive/bhagat-singh/index.htm

 

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